“It’s been a great success so far, both for the students and for us,” said Erin McDonough, liaison to Office of Mayor Bill Finch, and the on-site coordinator for the Fairfield University internship program.
“Students are learning a lot and making connections with local organizations and with members of the community. In addition, those working in departments for the city are getting a chance to work with enthusiastic interns.”
In the two years the program has been running, students have been placed according to their academic interests in offices ranging from sustainability, construction management, labor relations, the animal shelter, human resources, city attorney, civil services, and even the mayor’s office, all based on their interest.
“In our Sustainability Department alone, students have worked on dozens of different projects from biological surveys to energy program analysis to carbon footprint forecasting,” said McDonough.
Students taking part in the program come from a variety of academic disciplines. Majors have included international studies, mathematics, engineering, nursing, marketing, English, economics, history, and philosophy, to name just a few.
Responses from students taking part in the program have been very positive, with 100 percent of students that took part in a survey saying that the program was a positive experience.
“My time in the Mayor’s office was extremely valuable,” said Sarah Bennett ’14, an English major. “It allowed me to use skills from both my journalism and communication courses, and introduced me to new skills that have helped me in subsequent positions. It really helped me determine where I want my career to go.”
Administrators of the program will continue to build on the partnership between Fairfield and the City of Bridgeport. “It’s become an important way for students to learn about a neighboring city, Bridgeport, which is the largest city in Connecticut and taught dozens of students about many aspects of government and community work,” McDonough said.
“It’s also in line with Mayor Bill Finch’s dedication to public service and ensuring students have the experience they need to be prepared for 21st century jobs.
College of Arts and Sciences Interim Dean James Simon, who spearheaded the program, said he expected continued growth in summer City Hall internships that build on the work in the spring and the fall. He said he had a personal interest in the success of the program.
“I grew up in nearby Stratford in the 1960s, and Bridgeport was THE place to go for restaurants, shopping and entertainment, I remember several downtown record stores where you could go into listening booths and preview 45 rpm records,” he said with a laugh. “It’s nice to give something back.”
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